Tuesday, November 30, 2004

"But, that sounds like..."

I stopped being interested in Princess Diana not very long after her failed marriage to Prince Charles the Dysfunctional and she had made, what, her thirty-fifth cover of People magazine. Or was it Life? Oh, who cares?

I confess that I happen to be one of those souls who can't wait until enough of the Princess Di generation are either dead or senile so we won't have to hear anymore about her tragic life. Really. Enough is enough. The woman is dead. It doesn't really matter why or how or who. The Royals live at such an altitude that their veneer is titanium-tough.

That's why the latest revelations from Diana herself just don't do anything for me. Except...

It all sounded somehow familiar.

Diana said five years into their marriage she suspected Charles had gone back to Camilla. "I remember saying to my husband ... 'Why is this lady around?' And he said, 'Well, I refuse to be the only Prince of Wales who never had a mistress."'

Then it dawned on me.

Years ago, as I recall, there was a similar fascination in our own "royal" family, the Kennedys. Rumors had long been rampant of the famous Kennedy libido, and stories of Marilyn Monroe's trysts with the President had been pretty well documented. One piece I'd read (no idea where... too long ago now) showed that infidelity has long been the hallmark of the Kennedy men. A birthright, if you will. Such peccadillos were not only tolerated, but encouraged.

Hearing Diana's travails with her immoral Prince of Wales strikes me as precisely the same behavior I now associate with our own rulers of Camelot.

Want to know the bottom line for why I will never, ever, align myself with the Democratic party? No? Well, because this is my blog, I'm gonna tell you anyway. Even a cursory examination of the Democratic platform for the last several decades shows a pattern of law for convenience. No one, according to party doctrine, should ever have to accept responsibility for any immoral behavior. Period. Come with us, they say, and we will empower you. We will give you everything you want. Need money? We'll tax someone and give it to you. Want an abortion? We'll get tax money for that, too. Tired of hearing about God or his commandments? No problem. We'll remove him from the country, just as soon as we give enough tax money to the ACLU.

On voting day, commentators seemed astonished that so many people made "values" their hot-button that steered their decisions. I, on the other hand, was not the least bit surprised. The country's moral compass has been getting weaker and weaker for many, many years now.

It's about time we pointed it closer to True North again.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Hollywood Christmas Parade, Mortuos Est?

Well, now. Here's a tragedy that's sure to have you crying in your eggnog. The annual Hollywood Christmas Parade has degenerated to the point where it's primary drawing power rests in - I kid you not - SpongeBob SquarePants.

SpongeBob SquarePants??

Before I continue, there are a few things you need to know:

1. I, personally, have not watched the Hollywood Christmas Parade since I was a kid.

2. The Hollywood Christmas Parade, as an institution, could disappear next year for good, and I would not shed tear one.

3. The stars that used to make the Parade watchable are all dead. The last one died earlier this year. There aren't any left.

4. Not one.

Johnny Grant, whom I never got, celebrity-wise, was even hauled out of retirement to try his magic "Save the Hollywood Christmas Parade" act once again. To no avail. In his words:

"I'm not sure we have the caliber stars today that we had back in the era of the golden days of Hollywood. It has changed drastically. Today the young kids are making a lot of money and they hop the charter jet to Miami or the ski slopes or wherever."

This statement pretty much says it all. Caliber is sadly lacking in Hollywood today. In fact, Hollywood itself is nothing but an empty shell of its former self. The stars don't live there anymore, the studios aren't filming there anymore, and the stuff associated with it is pretty much dreck anymore.

Let's take a closer look.

Decades ago, under the old studio system, actors worked under contract to one studio for years at a time. As it happens in sports today, for a star to be "traded" from one studio to another could spell either disaster or victory for that actor's career. Once a star made it to the "A List," celebrity was guaranteed and demanding. Personal appearances were nearly as important to an actor's career as were the movies that catapulted them to stardom in the first place.

Many actors were truly larger than life. A favorite of mine was Jimmy Stewart. An outstanding actor, and a combat veteran, Stewart embodied "every man" better than perhaps anyone else in Hollywood. He was also, as it happened, a genuinely nice person. It was easy for fans to look "up" to Stewart as a celebrity because he exuded the qualities of grace and charm that were expected of him. This is the stuff of legend.

Compare to any number of celebrities today. Those who are famous enough to warrant the attention seem not to want it. Personal appearances are limited to papparazzi slugfests. Many of those who deign to speak in public do so only to further their own political agendas. The money given to them by their fans is used to keep those fans at a distance. Most of them have a hard time deciding which community to support because they live in three or four of them. Not including the one their names are attached to. Hedonism is the hallmark of the modern actor. Accountability is a foreign concept to many of them. They are either nomadic recluses, or in-your-face activists.


Of course, having read biographical works of many legendary Hollywood personalities, it really wasn't all that different back then. Still, the actors were usually able to make their public faces believable enough to sell the image to a starving public. Nowadays, they don't even try.

Rest in peace, Hollywood Christmas Parade. You had your day, and that day has passed. Time to retire the legend and return to the business of making entertainment for those who are still willing to pay for it. We had our fun watching you, but we've long since outgrown you. Or maybe you've outgrown us. In either case, expect no requiem.

We've got better things to do.

UPDATE: This morning's radio news reported that "hundreds of cars" were towed from around the parade route last night. Seems the No Parking signs were posted after the spectators parked. And the whiney spectators are reportedly angry. Now there's a surprise. I'm sure this will generate lots of goodwill for the parade next year. [Must suppress evil chuckle!]

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Going Too Far

Credit Drudge: This article disturbs me on several levels.

Truthfully, there is nothing new about this kind of close-minded bias against even the mention of religion in education. Although not prevalent when I was in high school (mid-70's, if you must know), I first became aware of this bias in the mid-80's when deciding whether to send my son to a public school. Over time it has, of course, gotten worse. While at first trying to at least put on a facade of balance, professional educators have now completely abandoned any such facade and have openly declared war on God in the classroom.

I'm sure, to be completely fair, they are also forbidding mention of Allah, Buddah, Isis, Thor, whatever nature-deity the Pagans are currently worshipping, and Al Franken. Although, in Franken's case, I suspect they use him in discussions regarding "diversity" and "sensitivity."

Now, I strongly defy any educator, with or without initials after his or her name, to justify the teaching of history in any classroom without ever mentioning the religious underpinnings of those who made that history. I'll even give a specific instance. You tell me how you plan to educate our youth about the pilgrims and the Mayflower without ever mentioning the religious ideals that drove them to leave their mother country for an uncharted, largely hostile land. We'll start with just that much.

Anyone who thinks they can do that with any degree of temerity needs to have their PhD revoked. Permanently.

Several years ago, when I was relatively new to the Internet and its multiverse of news lists, chat rooms, and other forms of instant communication, I subscribed to a discussion group that dealt with choral music. Not a few of the subscribers on this list were educators, and music education was a frequent thread. One day, a teacher in the New York City system wrote about some strong-arm tactics that were being employed by a local chapter of (surprise!) the ACLU and, by extension, the school district. She was told to remove certain pieces from a coming concert because their "religious connotations" might "offend certain sensibilities."

As you might expect, the list exploded. "Don't back down!" was the general thread. My contribution was that it is impossible to teach anyone an appreciation of western music (notice I didn't say "country-western" music, which, in my mind, is an oxymoron) without exploring the great corpus of music directly influenced by one church or another. Without the church, much of what we consider "classical" music today would never have been written. Failure to teach serious students of the art form about its religious roots is failing the students. Period. It is also, if I may add, disgraceful conduct on the part of the educators.

The fact is, education administrators live in mortal fear of not being considered "politically correct." Political correctness is a crutch - a device behind which educators and lawyers hide their true ambitions: To make this country completely devoid of religious influences and forward their own humanist agendas. Any educator or lawyer who somehow believes that political correctness is meant only to level the playing field is seriously deluded. Such a thing is not possible. People of faith will never - never - capitulate on this point. God directly assisted in the creation of this nation of, by, and for the people, and we cannot abandon him now to the selfish interests of misguided "experts."

If that makes me a religious extremist, then I plead guilty with pleasure.

To forbid showing students the Declaration of Independence merely because it mentions God is nothing short of treason against the United States of America. May these people never find a home here.

UPDATE: Wizbang wonders in what context the Declaration is being presented. My take: Not the right one. And, by the way guys, it's not just California, either!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

So What?

So Dan Rather resigned today. So what?

Now, I'll grant that I've been just as vocal about ol' Dan needing to be put out to pasture (not, necessarily, like I was per my previous post, but there's always the entertainment value to consider...) as the next guy. Unfortunately, I also happen to agree with those who don't really feel a need to celebrate just now.

Gerard at American Digest points out - correctly - that Dan is just the most visible mask covering a much deeper problem. Dan's resignation is very similar to any ol' CEO of a scandal-plagued corporation. The scandal river runs deep, and many more heads need to roll before anyone will trust them again.

The basic problem remains: Mainstream Media is biased and no one in the industry really wants to admit that this is a problem. One of two things needs to happen before any level of trust can be restored. Either MSM admits their bias and continues doing what they do best, or they admit their bias and take real steps to eliminate bias in their reporting.

My guess? Business as usual. This is the Watergate stonewall-at-any-cost mentality that refuses to admit that the problem even exists. We've already seen ample evidence of this attitude in statements made by MSM executives, anchors (even those who normally despise each other in real life), reporters and correspondents on the ground, and even retired journalists. Those who would dare admit that bias might exist to any degree, however small, are at the fringe of the MSM biosphere, and tend not to warrant any notice. Bloggers live outside the fringe in MSM's estimation, and will continue to be regarded as disease-ridden vermin.

Tactically this is a good thing. This means that while the blogosphere continues to evolve and consolidate their collective talents, the MSM will continue to struggle with protecting their stockholders' interests. They will implement many "fresh" approaches to their reporting, even while failing to address the bias issue in any constructive manner. They will use all manner of corporate-speak blather to fool us into thinking that they've licked this bias thing for good, while continuing to conspire with Democratic operatives in planning the 2008 campaign.

So, Dan can resign, Peter may retire, and Tom could be fired tomorrow. 'Twould make little difference.

'Twould be news, though.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds (The InstaPundit) notes this quote from one of my favorite politicos, Loretta Sanchez (a local Democrat), made to Wolf Blitzer on CNN:

"The media certainly is not in our hands any longer."

Glenn's comment: Indeed.
My comment: Oh, puhleeze. Like this is news.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Frozen Peas

I have come to the conclusion that the invention of frozen peas will forever stand as the last great testament to the genius of man and the generosity of our Creator.

Mrs. Woody was reading today in a magazine - one of those hordes of magazines that deal with Holiday Magic in Your Home in Only Twenty Simple Steps - and found a tip about how to cool a bowl of soup for a child. (Incidentally, do these magazines ever print anything besides tips? Do they ever print honest-to-john articles? I didn't think so, either.) This tip was submitted by a woman who didn't have any ice available to cool the soup. Any parent who has faced this crisis knows what's at stake: Not necessarily the freedom of the western world, but certainly the sanity of the Mommy. What to do? This woman found a bag of frozen peas in her freezer and scooped some into the child's bowl. The soup was cooled sufficiently to be eaten by the child, the peas were thawed to the point of edibility, and the child (presumably) was happy.

Frozen peas: Miracle Vegetable of the 21st Century.

Of course, one cannot base one's thesis entirely on a single datum. I have observed this frigid legume at great length and undertaken several controlled experiments.

Exhibit A is my wife. Mrs. Woody, bless her heart, suffers from arthritis. Her knees are a source of nearly constant discomfort, worse some days than others. On those days when she feels that throbbing, we apply a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a dish towel to the affected area. We always have two bags of "therapeutic" peas available so we can trade off. Or, if both knees hurt, one for each leg. We find that frozen peas tend to stay cold longer than just about every cold pack we've ever tried, so we've been thrilled to employ them. At $1.79 a bag, we're not too worried about busting our budget, either.

Exhibit B is just about any casserole cookbook. Doesn't matter whether it's baked in an oven, or cooked in a crock pot, frozen peas figure heavily in quite a lot of our favorite recipes.

Of course, given both exhibits, you might well ask how we keep "therapeutic" peas from getting confused with "edible" peas. Quite simply, we buy the cheapest peas we can find for therapy. If we're gonna eat 'em, I don't mind paying for 'em.

Through all this, however, I must make a confession: I didn't arrive at Exhibit A all by myself. I had help.

Several years ago, one of my in-laws (you know who you are!) went through a medical procedure that instantly makes guys wince at its very name. In short, this procedure makes guys somewhat less lethal during critical times of a gal's, um, monthly inconvenience, if you catch my drift. At any rate, he raved about the healing power of frozen peas and how much they facilitated his recovery.

When the time came for us to make that most difficult of decisions (Mrs. Woody being somewhat loathe to ask the sacrifice of me) we remembered our in-law's experience and decided to put Woody out to pasture, so to speak.

I won't describe the procedure itself in case any of you gentlemen out there may be considering it yourselves. I will only use a code word to help you understand the experience in as sensitive a manner possible:


Needless to say, the living room couch and I became quite well acquainted immediately following my experience. Mrs. Woody kept a steady supply of frozen peas at the ready, and my nether-regions were kept at a steady 30 degrees Farenheit (or so it felt) for about three days. To say my first day back to work was an adventure in endurance would be an understatement, but the peas had worked their magic. I was at least able to sit upright for my entire shift, although the couch and I got reacquainted immediately upon my return home. Still, about a week after the procedure, you would never have known I'd been through it. I sure as heck would, but I've never regretted doing it.

Frozen peas. Unsung heros of the vegetable kingdom. We need some sort of National Frozen Peas Day declared by the President, and I urge all three of my readers to immediately contact their congressperson and waste their time for the cause.

Thank you.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Interview

The man was nervous. He'd been through many interviews in his life, but this one made him uncomfortable. First of all, he was unaccustomed to waiting for the interviewer. Rather than be met, he'd been shown instead into a stark white room with two well-worn but comfortable looking chairs. No desk. Just the chairs. He shifted in his seat as though itching for this interview to be over.

After some time, the interviewer strode into the room. He commands a presence, the man thought. I'll give him that.

The interviewer strode over to the man and shook his hand warmly, waving him back into his seat. In one hand the interviewer carried an obviously well-worn folder; probably, thought the man, all the salient facts about my life. Talking points for the interview. For some inexplicable reason, this made the man more nervous. What was in that file?

The interviewer gave the man a smile that was reminiscent of the handshake he had offered. The interviewer fixed the man with a searching gaze, making the man shift uncomfortably once again. The interviewer placed the file carefully in his lap and, without opening it, asked a simple question.

"Tell me about yourself," he began.

"Well, there's really not much to tell that you probably haven't already read," the man replied glibly, pointing to the file on the interviewer's lap. "I suspect you already know quite a lot about me."

"True enough," said the interviewer with a slight smile. "Still, I'd really like to hear you talk about yourself for a moment. If you don't mind, that is."

"Of course, of course," returned the man. "I've had this kind of interview before. Where shall I start?" he prompted.

Without even a glance down at the file on his lap, the interviewer gazed intently at the man and said, "Tell me about your family."

This caught the man off guard. "My family? Well, I love my wife, obviously. She's been a great support to me over the years. And I couldn't be more proud of my daughter. She's done well in her life. I value her love and support. Couldn't be what I am without these wonderful women in my life!"

"Yes, yes, they are wonderful," agreed the interviewer. "Very strong willed. Both very capable, as you've said before. What I should have asked was, what have you done for them?"

This interview was taking a turn the man instinctively disliked. Sitting up a little straighter - a trick he'd learned through many interviews - he returned the interviewer's gaze. "I've given them everything they've needed to become their own person. I've always supported their right to become whatever they wanted to become. To make their own decisions and not have to hide from those decisions. I've always respected their right to choose for themselves what they felt was best for them."

The man liked that answer. He'd used it before and was pleased that it came so naturally.

The interviewer nodded and smiled. "Freedom to choose. An admirable law, don't you think? And have they become everything you hoped they would?"

"I believe they have, yes," the man responded. "I'm very proud of them both."

The interviewer seemed to consider this for a moment. The man wondered why it was that the interviewer took no notes. Perhaps everything he'd just said was already in the file and the interviewer was merely confirming old material. Yes, that would be it. Nothing original here. Same old questions.

The interviewer smiled once again and continued. "You certainly have had your own ambitions in life, haven't you? Can you tell me whether you're satisfied with what you've accomplished?"

The man wondered briefly about the source of that smile, but shrugged it off and put on his sincerely modest face that had served him so well in the past. "I feel good to have served my fellow men in so many ways. I've been blessed, really, to have been given the opportunities I've had. I served my country honorably in a conflict I didn't support, then tried to make a difference by serving my state as a U. S. Senator. I believe my record speaks for itself."

Good answer, the man thought to himself. Not too pretentious, but let him know that I was worth something.

The interviewer leaned forward a little in his seat. "Oh I have no doubt you were a skilled politician," he said. "And believe me, your record speaks volumes about your service. And so, if you don't mind, I really have only one other question for you today."

The man was dumbfounded but nodded his head. Only one more question?

The interviewer leaned back in his chair, fixed the man with his piercing gaze and asked, "What did you do for me?"

Completely nonplussed, the man's jaw slackened a bit. "I'm not sure I understand the question," he muttered.

"It's quite simple, really. I placed you on earth to test you, you see. The bargain was that you would be given opportunities to help and serve your fellow man throughout your life. You would be taught eternal truths, and then be expected to live them. In return I would give you your inheritance in my Father's kingdom. So, the question then becomes, what did you do to uphold your end of the bargain?"

So that's it, thought the man. No credit given for service rendered; just accountability as to whether I played by his narrow rules.

"As a senator I always had the best interests of my constituents at heart. I must have done something right, since they saw fit to elect me time after time."

"I'm sure you did what you thought was best," rejoined the interviewer, but his face had taken on a more serious mien. "Still, you were raised with the gospel. What did you do to defend those truths?"

"I felt it best to keep my faith separate from my duty to the country," came the rote response. "I could not allow myself to violate the separation of church and state. That was my duty."

The man was visibly nervous now. This wasn't what he had expected. Then again, he never really had known what to expect in this interview, had he?

The interviewer pressed on. "You were taught everything you needed to know about the sanctity of human life, yet did nothing to preserve the lives of unborn children. Temples of the Spirit that I sent to earth to fulfill their promise. What did you do for them?"

The man sputtered, "I had no right to impose my beliefs on any other person living in my country!" he stammered. "How could I possibly have taken away the right for a woman to choose her own path in life? Or how could I have supported their continued subjugation to men? How could I tell loving partners that they could never experience the joy of marriage simply because of their orientation?"

A sad look appeared on the face of the interviewer. He placed one hand slowly on the file laying on his lap, and raised the other one in supplication to the man sitting across from him. "How? By teaching them the truth, John. By helping those women understand the eternal importance of their positions as wives and mothers. By helping those loving partners understand the true nature of man and his affections. By preaching abstinence and adoption, rather than vice and abortion."

The interviewer took the file in his hand and stood. The interview was clearly over. It had not gone at all well. Before leaving the stunned man, the interviewer turned and gave him one last look.

"I have always taught my people to love, obey and respect their Father in Heaven," he said. "I gave my life to seal that testimony. I had high hopes that you might understand that, John. I'm sorry that you didn't."

The interviewer left the room with a tear in his eye. The man sat for what seemed like an eternity, stunned and disbelieving. Then, after he had pondered everything he had heard in his interview, and everything he had ever learned about the man who had just interviewed him, he bowed his head and uttered one simple word.


© 2004, Gregory S. Wood

Woo Hoo! Stats Climb!

Being a life-long hater of metrics in general, and in business specifically, I must confess to enjoying watching my own stats climb. I'm at an all-time high in the eco-system tonight. I must have looked at the "Flippery Fish" designation ten times before I realized that I'd never been there before. Shucks, I wasn't a Slimey Mollusc for very long.

Thanks to all for links in, and for giving me such wonderful opinions to link out!


UPDATE: Wowzers! I went to bed a few hours ago, and when I awoke, I'd jumped right up to "Crawly Amphibian" without even trying! Boy, if Darwin ever got hold of this...

Matthews' Malapropism

Chris Matthews is at it again. I've seen this numerous places, but I'll tip the hat to Cap'n Ed of Captain's Quarters.

Matthews once again shows his iron grasp of nuance by calling our terrorist enemies "not bad guys, really." Uh, huh. Funny, if unintentionally so.

More interesting to me are the reactions of the right side of the 'sphere. Most comments seem to deride Matthews as having become (if such a thing were possible) more and more unhinged, especially since the election. Possibly true, but I believe the situation to be more prosaic than that.

Matthews really does fancy himself as a shaper of public policy. While this is true of most commentators, Matthews carries such an inflated sense of self that Goodyear airships regularly file flight plan deviations to avoid hitting him after one of his shows. Lest you think I exaggerate, he gets quite a bit of his hot air from none other than kissin' cousin Keith "Never Prouder of You, Chris!" Olbermann.

Personally, I think Matthews only presents a danger for as long as we pay him any attention. Think about it: Higher rated shows can fail to have any compelling message. 60 Minutes tanked their vaunted brand by letting Rather and his brigands loose on the Wednesday Night Pretender. The result is credibility measured in negative integers. Matthews' so-called "Hardball" only becomes such when he's got a guest who sits in opposition to his vaunted opinions. Can't sell the show without the spittle, it seems. Olbermann only appeals to testosterone-based life forms who've found a new religion and followed Keith from the locker-room to the caucus room. Recovering sportscasters make lousy political analysts, just like former defensive tackles do not automatically make great sportscasters.

Ignore the deluded fool, and he'll slip quietly away. Well, not really "quietly," I guess. Probably kicking and screaming about the right-wing zealots who conspired to make him lose market share. But away he'll eventually go. I really suspect most of Matthews' viewers come from those with a morbid curiosity and too much time on their hands. If they're forming opinion based on this dreck, they deserve everything they get (like therapy when Kerry loses, for instance).

No, Matthews reaches one demographic and one only: Hardcore leftists who think animals are more valuable than children and want to make nice with the terrorists.

They are welcome to him.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

California Drivers Punished Incentivized

Well, Arnie's finally done it. He's finally shown his true Kennedy family allegiance by appointing a tax and spend Democrat to the head of this state's worst bureaucratic nightmare. Joan Borucki, a longtime official with CalTrans ("Keeping Our Highways Unusable For Your Own Good") sees a way to pour more money into CalTrans' coffers and, at the same time, punish those idiots who clog her highways every day with their cars.

Borucki first makes the ludicrous claim that she wants to transform the Department of Motor Vehicles into a "customer-friendly, service-oriented unit of our government." Well, more power to her. It's already less popular than the Franchise Tax Board, so it can only get better from here, theoretically.

Making bad news worse is Borucki's innovative new idea: Instead of making Californians pay $.18 per gallon at the pump (which is supposed to encourage us to buy fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles), Borucki wants to put devices in our cars that tell Big Brother Ms. Borucki just how many miles we're driving on her precious highways. Better yet, those same devices will tell Big Brother Ms. Borucki which roads we're driving on at which times so she can levy higher taxes on those hard working individuals who just want to get home as quickly as possible to spend some (so far) non-taxable time with their families.

Hey, I think that's a terrific idea. All in favor?

[Unanimous support from state transportation experts and budget analysts]


[Every driver in the state of California]

Hmm. Perhaps we didn't explain the benefits of this tax-and-spend proposal. Did we mention that those of you idiots who insist on purchasing hybrid and fuel-efficient vehicles are taking money away from critical highway repairs? Well, here's how you can atone for your greed and avarice. You'll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that Big Brother Ms. Borucki is watching your every move, and will tax you for it. Brother, you just can't buy that kind of security today.

Still not convinced? Neither am I.

Three years ago my company transferred me to another location. I moved from moderately expensive Ventura County to ultra-expensive Orange County. I insisted on moving to a home within a reasonable driving radius from my new work location. When we found one that was only five miles from the office, we were thrilled. I could drive to and from work in ten minutes or less, give or take traffic. One year later, the company transferred me to another location some twenty two miles away from home. So, under Borucki's plan, I would be punished twice: Once when the company increased my commute time, plus wear and tear on my vehicles. A second time because I would have to pay that much more in taxes because my commute miles effectively quadrupled. Plus I have to use freeways now unless I want to take forty-five minutes to travel the twenty-two miles from home to office, so that means a higher tax rate under this proposal.

And if that isn't incentive enough, don't forget the penalty you'll get to pay when you dare to take a vacation and have to use Big Brother Ms. Borucki's highways! Welcome to California! Pay up and leave!

What a benefit! I can't wait for this woman's confirmation hearings.

I plan to wear black.

Monday, November 15, 2004

A Cage-y Problem

The problem with understanding (or, at least, being acquainted with) someone like John Cage is that when someone tries something similar in another medium, we immediately suspect plagiarism.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

A Problem With Glenn's Argument

Instapundit is always a must-read. He's not on my daily roll, but I look him up a few times a week to get a balanced, usually fair assessment of pressing topics. In this post, Glenn provides a legal opinion related to this post by Jonah Goldberg at the Review.

Jonah asserts that TV shows, especially those espousing traditionally liberal values, never allow their female characters to have an abortion, even while supporting a woman's right to by-golly to so whenever she darn well pleases. Glenn threatens (probably an empty threat, he readily admits) to submit a legal review on this topic, and points out that it is possible for someone (like Glenn, dern him) to both support a woman's right to abort, as well as hold her criminally liable for subjecting the unborn fetus to medical dangers like alcohol abuse and tobacco. An interesting conundrum, but one which, I think, misses the actual point.

Glenn points out that under common law, there is no "duty to rescue." This means, to use his example, that if a baby insists on drowning itself in an inch of water, you are under no legal obligation to rescue that child. Of course, he continues, there's always the moral obligation, but legally you're clear. It's only when you actually attempt to assist the baby that you'd better be ready to see it through to its logical conclusion, else be prepared to suffer the consequences.

Here's the problem I see with Glenn's argument. While factually correct, it asserts that a man's duty is legal first, and moral second. Or, in other words, anyone with a spiritual conscience may feel compelled to act, but in the "real world" that moral compass is really just a tool. A means to an end.

So what happens when we reverse that assumption?

Let's take Glenn's example of the man passing by a drowning baby. For a person who has that moral compass - especially in the form of a religious upbringing or training - the first instinct would be the protection of that baby. This person, legally, then becomes subject to the legal "duty to rescue." Naturally, anyone who first undertakes to rescue this child would want to see it through to its conclusion. That's what the moral compass provides.

By making that moral compass subordinate to legal requirements, the instinct is stifled. Fear of legal reprisal makes us wary of wanting to offer assistance to anyone, infant or adult. It dampens our resolve to help others who require help, in any form. If there's no legal payoff, we don't play.

And that's a shame.

The Founders knew that their constitutional government was not, by any means, perfect. Because they could only address so many things from a moral perspective, they wrote copiously about the need for men to keep their moral compasses fully charged. Stay true to your Creator, they insisted, and He will guide you through all difficulties. Ignore Him at your peril.

When God gave Israel its laws, he made the legal requirements subordinate in all things to his own eternal law. The moral compass was to rule in all legal matters, and the law was both temporally and eternally binding. Men feared the consequences because they feared (in theory, anyway) the wrath of their Deity.

Will we ever learn that lesson?

Friday, November 12, 2004

Bush's Political Capital Already Strapped For Cash?

The phone rang just a few minutes ago. I'm working at home this morning (recovering from a "team building" experience yesterday... I've never been so sore!), and Mrs. Woody noticed that the call was labelled as "Political Call." Bless Caller ID. The purpose of this call can only be one thing: Someone wants my money. Well, it's either Bush or Streisand.

Mrs. Woody answered the phone, but handed it over to me. "They asked for Mr. or Mrs. Woody," she said. I took the phone.

"Good morning, Mr. Woody. Would you consider yourself to be pro-life, pro-choice, or somewhere in between?" Ah. It's Bush. Streisand would've said "anti-choice," not "pro-life."

I could've written this script myself. Done a better job, too.

"Oh, I'm very much pro-life," was my reply.

"That's wonderful to hear, Mr. Woody. [KA-CHING!] As you know, abortion and, especially, partial-birth abortion is a serious issue that requires everyone's help. President Bush [KA-CHING!] needs your assistance to fight this problem. If we send you an envelope [KA-CHING, KA-CHING!] in the next few days, would you be able to help with a 75 or 100 dollar donation?" [Sound of cash register crashing to floor in excitement]

"Not a chance. Don't have the money for that."

"Oh, I understand, sir. [Sound of cash register being placed back on table] Perhaps in another week or two we could send you that envelope..." [a few rather dis-spirited, half-hearted ka-chings in minor key]

"Nope. You guys need to take care of that with legislation, not more of my money."

[Sound of cash drawer closing until next call]

"Thank you, sir, for your time. Have a wonderful evening."

Huh? It's 10:00 in the silly morning! Need to change scripts. Oh, wait. Telemarketers live in India, don't they?

Look. I understand that abortion is a pressing issue. I'm all for eliminating Roe v. Wade permanently from our lexicon. I think anyone who aborts a baby to erase a "mistake" needs to be removed from the reproductive flow.


Money won't solve this issue. A return to moral high ground and ethical fortitude will solve this issue. If President Bush wants to cash in his political capital, he needs to keep his hands in his own pockets.

Just sayin'.

By the way, for those aristodemocrats who cling to their moonbat stereotypes, I consider myself to be a reasonably loyal republican. In over twenty-five years of adult life, however, I've never been able to capitalize on that membership. I'm still poorer than a church mouse and will likely stay that way for the foreseeable future. I'm not complaining. I just don't think money will ever solve any problem faced by this country today. Not abortion. Not poverty. Not civil injustices.

Wanna change America? Use someone else's capital.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Another Reason Why...

...I fell in love with Mrs. Woody.

My helpmeet is under the weather big time today. She's getting one of our change-of-season colds that seem to disrupt our entire routine hereabouts. This is the painful-to-swallow, fever, negative-integer-energy kind of cold that really knocks her off her feet. Tomorrow would be a terrific time for Daddy to stay home and give Mum an assist.

Except, Daddy was just informed that his boss will be escorting our entire team at work to a day at Disneyland tomorrow.

As guilty and somewhat depressed as I feel (what's a trip to MouseHaus without my fam??), it's even harder for my sweetheart. She feels bad that I feel guilty, and that I'll be spending what should be a fun day worrying about her having to take care of herself and two loving but rambunctious girls.

Here's the kicker, though. After assuring me that they will be alright tomorrow, and to not worry and enjoy myself, she allowed me to provide some TLC and soothe her own feelings.

She had me read to her about the Savior.

This is vintage Mrs. Woody. In our home, reading out loud is counted as one of our treats. We have read the entire Harry Potter library to each other multiple times now. In fact, when Book 5 came out, she read it to me while we drove up to Washington to vacation with our friends. We also read more significant literature as the mood indicates.

Lately we had begun to read a rather hefty series of books written by late LDS apostle Bruce R. McConkie, all related to the mission of the Messiah. It's heavy stuff. Takes me about a solid hour to read a single chapter out loud, but we've enjoyed it tremendously.

This is the book that my Missus asked me to read to her to help her feel better.

That's why I love her. She's good for me.

Rusty Impales Himself on Lucas' Sword

Well, brother of mine, it looks like our redoubtable professor has taken leave of his senses. See his missive on the new Star Wars EpIII trailer.

Bring TUMS.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Commissar Declares 'Sphere DOA

The Commissar bemoans the loss of any real blog fodder now that victory has been acheived by nekulturny capitalists.

I find this a fascinating dichotomy. Is it possible that the blogosphere suffers from its own flexibility? Can it be true that we are, just as old media tries to protray us, nothing more than pajama-clad gossip-mongers?

The adjustments to the 'sphere that we will see over the next few months are, I think, only natural. Our favorite Commie notes that several political blogs are meandering now, having spent themselves on the 2004 election. All dressed up and nowhere to go.

On the other hand, some of us look to the future (beyond the next four years, even) and see plenty of memes to keep us busy.

Take, for example, the anti-religious tonality of the left. While the Commissar may still feel that religion is merely a capitalist lap-dog, those of us who prefer religion to the alternative are feeling some genuine concern. This country was founded on principles that were decidedly religious in nature, and the left-facing attitude toward religion means long fights ahead.

The protection of traditional marriage (also, not coincidentally, a religious theme) will once again be put to the test here in Californicate. A (surprise!) gay assemblyman has plans to introduce a challenge to the constitutional amendment implemented via Proposition 22 several years ago. He will, of course, be closely watched and the same resources that were marshalled to ensure Prop 22's success will again be brought to bear.

Names are already being floated to see who will headline the 2008 elections. Dare we ponder another Kerry candidacy? Can we stomach the possibility of one more Clintonista White House? Will McCain sit this one out? Will Nader attempt another spoil? Deaniacs taking over the DNC? I see troubling times ahead, and more fodder for the blogilantes.

Old media will not simply shrivel up and fade away. They still do not understand the real power of the blogosphere to engender public debate. The 'sphere is much more responsive to the participants' need for instantaneous feedback than old media ever will be. We will be continuing our close monitoring of the DNC party apparatchik and fisking whenever challenged to do so. Get used to it, fellas. You're on our nickel now. I don't care how many battles you've covered in your career. This is a new war, and you've become the enemy.

If Charming Charlie is worried about a lack of blogfodder in the near future, he needn't be. The world is still plenty messed up. We'll still have lots to talk about.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Elsewhere in the World

With our return to the somewhat mundane post-election life we've all craved since the Iowa caususes, we find a few tidbits of information that had been tucked away somewhere while we cogitated about how best to keep Bush in office this year.

However, across the Pacific at Camp Zama in Japan, a drama played out in a court martial for Sergeant Charles R. Jenkins, who defected to North Korea rather than face combat in Vietnam. The court sentenced him to 30 days confinement, reduced him in rank to Private, revoked his right to back-pay for his near 40 year absence, and gave him a dishonorable discharge.

After the 30 day sentence is served, private citizen Jenkins will be free to return to the United States to be reunited with family he has not seen since 1965.

The New York Times (hey, I only read it because the hotel gave it to me this morning!) made much of the political angle. By only sentencing him to 30 days, Japanese public opinion would be softened somewhat toward the United States. This is critical because the U.S. wishes to move the Army First Corp from Washington to Camp Zama, and will need a favorable impression for the Japanese public to accept such a move. Recent debaucles in Taiwan have raised Japanese concerns in recent months over any such U.S. military presence in their country.

All that aside, the more significant story for me is the story of a defector who found out the hard way (as they nearly all have) that life is never as rosy elsewhere as it is in the good ol' United States.

Jenkins and his wife recounted their experiences together in a hostile and socially backward country. Their marriage was arranged, and tightly controlled from the beginning. They were rarely without the "companionship" of their Political Advisor. Jenkins was forced to study and memorize the writings of Kim Il Sung, North Korea's vicious and delusional founder and dictator. Kim's son and current NK leader, Kim Jong Il is described as an evil man who runs an evil system.

I do not wish to sound harsh, and I certainly don't know what I would expect had I made the same choices Jenkins made forty years ago. Still, Jenkins made those choices. Rather than Canada, he made North Korea his hiding place of choice, and suffered serious depravations as a result.

I cannot agree with those who may wish to demonize this man, especially since he has seen the error of his ways and more than understands the benefits of citizenship in the United States. Still, great care must be taken to use Jenkins' story as a means of teaching people what citizenship in this country means. Expecially in the context of the tremendous responsibility we have to participate in our republican processes in order to maintain those freedoms we enjoy.

Life here may not be perfect. Certainly the liberals of this country may not have much joy in their hearts after the election, and I'm certain we've not heard the last of such issues as gay marriage and abortion rights. But people need to be glad that we still, after more than two hundred years, have the ability to keep talking about it. Even in angry tones.

God help Mr. Jenkins and his family in their new life together. And God bless America.


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Promised Halloween Report

On Friday of last week we took the girls Trunk or Treating at the church. We do this every year, because it feels safer than going from house to potentially dangerous house. Then we take them to their cousins' house to do precisely that. In a safe neighborhood, of course.

This year the girls dressed up as a dragon and Tinkerbell. The dragon was far too cute to be accused of breathing fire, and Tinkerbell had golden brown hair, but Halloween is all about suspension of disbelief.

Just the previous year, I had wondered when my girls would "get it." You know... when would they begin to understand the concept of marching up to someone's door, say "Trick or treat!" and wait for the payoff?

This was my older girl's year.

First, a little background. My daughters are blessed with certain genes from both parents. At times, these genes come into conflict. For example, anyone who knows me understands that my two girls can both be complete crackups. They are hilarious, when they put their minds to it and aren't too cranky to enjoy each other. On the other hand, if you look at the photos of my daughters with Santa every year of my younger daughter's life, you will see a steady progression from scream, to cry, to abject terror, to severe pout. This year we're hoping to have at least the absence of a frown. The truth is, my girls are horribly shy.

Second example: My girls attend something called "Primary" at church, which is our equivalent of worship service for kids. Every year, the Primary kids get to do a program in our main Sacrament Meeting. They give kids speaking parts and have them sing, oh, about three hundred songs. It's always adorable. Unfortunately it's also extremely traumatic for my two youngsters. The older one simply refuses to open her mouth. She'll stare, stone faced, while the rest of the kids are yelling at the top of their lungs in any ol' key that comes to mind. The younger one actually looks like she might sing, but generally changes her mind as soon as she stands up. They are adorable, though!

Such is the shyness of my two young ladies. My wife and I have coached, cajoled, and even attempted bribery to get them to speak up. Or even speak. In public, that is. When they're at home, I often try the same methods to get them to clam up for awhile. No, they're shy, and they get it from family.

Sunday night was our night to go out with the cousins. They live in Ventura county, and the two younger twins are only a year behind my little one. My older one dressed up once again in her not-so-scary dragon outfit, and we drove everyone over to the neighborhood that we visit every year.

Imagine my shock and pleasant surprise when my incredibly shy older daughter marched boldly up to the first door on the block, knocked on the door, and shouted "Trick or treat!" to the suitably impressed occupant. They had to pick me up off the street. She did this, house after house, street after street, until it got too tiring for the adults to keep up. In fact, she outlasted her younger sister, who seemed to lose steam after about a dozen or so houses and went back to the car with Grandma. I was astonished. A couple of times I mildly protested to my daughter that she needed to wait for the other kids. "But, Daddy! What if I get to the next house and there's no candy left??"

Later, in reviewing it with my wife, I made the comment: "You remember last year when we wondered when our girls would get it? Well, they get it now."

Indeed they do.

Random Post-Election Musings

1. Kerry conceded. Wonderful!

2. Pete Coors shows how a gentleman graciously accepts defeat. All except for that part about making beer being the best job in the world. Got a good laugh, though.

3. Eleven - make that one hundred percent - of the states with pro-traditional marriage (or, if you prefer, anti-gay marriage) amendments on the ballot came through and passed every one of them. God bless you all.

4. Thank goodness Kerry conceded.

5. I echo my brother: Subjecting oneself to (in my case) eight straight hours of election coverage, even with Fox News, is not a good thing. I'm having a dickens of a time focusing on this whaddayacallit, computer thingie.

6. Nothing stinks quite like being a Republican in a Democrat-ridden city (which, by the way, resides in a state that voted for Bush) away from your wife while it's raining cats and dogs outside and having to go to sleep after being stuck on "Bush - 269, Kerry - 207" for three solid hours. Except, maybe, malaria.

7. Of course, there's always waking up the next morning and hearing that the "official" count is now "Bush - 254, Kerry - 252" because no one has the beans to call Ohio and we begin to realize that we're quite possibly in for another thirty seven day Cirque du Solicitors in Ohio because Edwards made some cretin speech about making sure every vote counts and every vote will be counted. That stinks, too.

8. Then trying to navigate around a city that I now have documentary proof was designed by drunken fur trappers in the early 1700's. (Hey, if there were French fur trappers living in the bayou, you'd better believe they were drunk!) Not real crazy about that, either. Nor with the TWENTY-TWO FLIPPIN' DOLLARS A DAY VALET PARKING AT THE HOTEL. Not that I'm bitter.

9. Did I mention how happy I am that Kerry conceded? Better not look happy in public today, though. A few Huey Long holdovers may just introduce me to the bottom of the Mississippi. You wouldn't believe the lecture I got last night from a taxi driver in this town. If he sees me again he might just help with the introduction.

10. In another thirty six hours I will be joyfully reunited with spouse and offspring. I can't wait. Neither, thankfully, can they.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Canada Provides a National Service

I've always admired Canada. Even though their socialist policies scare me, they are a friendly people. Their country is large, green, and wide open (relative to the U.S., of course). I've always wanted to visit there, but there's still so much of my own country that needs checking out first.

Of course, my desire to visit may become tempered somewhat with news that certain celebrities may move there if Bush is re-elected.

Others - those with money - are also looking into such countries as Ireland or (hah!) France.

While I'm sure this will not sit well with certain of their fans, many of the rest of us will gladly hold the door for them whilst they make their exit. Sayonara, dudes. Enjoy your new freedoms.

There's nothing new about Hollywood types running away from their country of birth to make a statement. Heck, even Sean Connery left Scotland because he didn't like England's oppressive rule. Or something like that. Fact is, I've never really cared.

More to the point, I've never been able to respect someone who would cut and run, rather than stay and be a participant. But, you say, they have participated, and the rest of the country just won't cooperate! This is true. I, personally, think it's absolutely ludicrous to spend more money and legislation protecting dogs and cats than we do protecting unborn children. If that makes me insensitive, then thank goodness for numbness.

When I was growing up, I deeply feared being sent to war. We had one, then, and it was nasty. It hit home when one young man that Dad was giving french horn lessons to tried to get into one of the military bands so he wouldn't see combat. Dad knew, in his heart, that the kid wasn't quite good enough to make it into the band, and tried to dissuade him. Sure enough, the kid was assigned to a combat unit and was killed in Vietnam. Broke Dad's heart. That was the only time in my life when I even considered running to Canada after graduation.

As graduation loomed larger, however, I began to see the futility of running away. What would it accomplish? Sure, I'd be alive, but I have an incredibly guilty conscience, and I knew, deep down, that I would hate myself for a lot of years to come. As it turned out, both the war and the draft were history the very year I graduated, so I'll never really know.

And so, to the celebrities I say, "Fare thee well." Perhaps you'll find a fruitful field in your new homeland. Maybe you'll find people who will by god listen to you for a change. Maybe you'll find someone who'll care about your expatriation.

I don't. Maybe if Hollywood loses enough of you, they'll start putting out family-quality material again.

Aw, who am I kidding?

UPDATE: Gerard at American Digest suggests a helpful packing list for KOS' pending relocation to the Great North.

Speaking of Geeks...

So here I am at the Macromedia MAX 2004 conference in beautiful (I mean that, even given my updated previous post) downtown New Orleans. I am surrounded by geeks. The remarkable thing is, they all look perfectly normal. Well, ok, maybe not that kid with the two-tone hair and nose rings. But most everyone else looks like the sort of people I'd expect to see at church, or Main Street.

The illusion ends once we open our mouths to speak. For instance, some fellow just asked me if there was a trick to hooking into the wireless net here, and I was able to answer him. Coherently. For a geek, that is. Worse yet, he understood me. I'm sure this violates several natural laws, which I'll look up some day when I have time.

Time, however, is not ever available in the geek world. Not only does time equal money (yes, I just heard that one in a presentation), but we're clearly wasting it by being here listening to the presenters, when they really want us out there right this minute, putting into practice what we just learned. Then come back for more, I guess. These people drink way too much caffiene. Or maybe they just seem fast to me because I quit drinking the stuff. Been on the wagon for a full year this month, if anyone cares.

Somehow, magically, I managed to program myself a three hour break for lunch. So I get to take a few minutes and visit my friends in the 'Sphere today. My thanks to all those fellow geeks who are more dedicated to the political process today so I can get my election updates. I do appreciate it.

Perhaps later I'll post about my daughter's first real Halloween. Yeah, I know she's seven, but trust me, it was her first. I'll explain later.